Hearts and Flowers

From the outside it looked like I was the luckiest girl in the world. I drove a beautiful expensive car, had two homes, one in the UK and another abroad, had beautiful clothes and then of course there was the yacht…

Material things. Do they make you happy? Do they keep you warm at night? Do they make you smile and laugh and do they pick you up when you feel down?

The kitchen was a granite palace. Walnut units, bespoke handles, granite flooring, granite window sills. I would clean it until I could see my face in it. Sometimes, when I was lying on that granite floor, a plate of dinner in my hair, down my clothes, him standing over me screaming at me for being ‘so fucking stupid, the spaghetti is overcooked, I’m not fucking eating that shit you fucking tramp!’ I would watch the tears fall down my cheeks and puddle on to it. That cold, beautiful, soulless, expensive kitchen.

How many times did I end up dodging a plate or glass, watching it hit the wall or units behind me, the contents sliding down onto the floor? How many times did he stand over me and watch me clean up his mess, spitting on me, telling me he could do so much better? How many times did I wish I was somewhere else with someone else? How many times did he make me cry?

We had been out at the Blue Lagoon. Taken the baby with us. The other kids still in the UK. We were spending ‘quality time’ together, or more to the point, he had flown me out, his way of apologising for his recent aggression. The yacht was a sight to behold, floating majestic amongst the little motor boats, other holiday makers swimming near just to get a look. It was a good day. There was laughter. Diving in to the crystal waters. Sunbathing on the bow on the pristine white loungers. The baby napping in the shade of the sunroof. Not a normal life.

The sun started to get lower in the sky and we made our way back to moor up in the harbour. After dinner we sat at the dining table on the stern drinking wine and watching a film. I had put the baby down to sleep, he was in a little makeshift bed I had made him alongside ours. It was a calm, peaceful evening. Uneventful. Still.

If you have ever slept on a boat at night, you will be familiar with the gentle rocking motion as the wind blows across the water, the eeire silence that comes with being so close to the surface of the sea, the feeling that you are completely alone.

It was still. Every now and then a gentle sloshing sound at the window and then, still. He was in bed beside me, his back turned away from me. A slither of light from the porthole beyond him silhouetting his shoulder. A storm. A storm was brewing, I could feel it. He wasn’t sleeping…

A hand…or a knee? No, an elbow! I don’t know! Arms flailing I’m grabbing at my throat, clawing to get it away. I can’t breathe- I can’t breathe! I’m tearing again, the body on top of mine pushing down harder and harder, jabbing at my throat and face. Then a hand comes down on to the side of my face and pushes it in to the pillow. Fingers squishing and squashing my mouth, my lips, ripping at my nostrils. I hear a voice, it’s muffled and its calling for help. I don’t think it’s mine…it doesn’t sound like me. It’s so weak and pathetic. I can’t breathe, oh Jesus I really really can’t breathe, he’s going to kill me and no one will know! There’s the voice again, it says that she thinks she’s going to die. Then the pain stops. I realise the baby is crying. He’s lying right beside me. I want to pick him up and comfort him but he won’t let me. He’s pulling me off the bed. He makes me kneel on the floor in front of him, standing over me, holding my head back by my hair. I look up at him and realise my face is throbbing. I can barely see his features in the shadowy light, but I can see he still wants blood. He smacks me hard in the nose, and the blood comes. Hot, sticky, it drips down my breasts onto the polished wood floor. He is content then. He tells me to sort myself out, and climbs back into bed. I pull myself up, shaky knees prevent me from standing so I crawl to the bathroom to clean myself up. Our baby lies in the bed beside him. His little body heaving as he sobs to be comforted, and while I clean my blood off the floor, and our baby cries, he turns his back on us and falls asleep.’

I wonder what everyone thought when I rang and said we were extending our holiday? I’m sure they thought, ‘lucky bastards’ ‘having a whale of a time living it up on that bloody boat’ ‘ who does she think she is, a celebrity?’

No. I’m not coming home because I can’t get on that plane with my face looking the way it does. Instead I shall sit in fear on this enormous hunk of floating money while he trots off the the shoe shop and buys me some heels. Because, well, you know… he loves me.


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